THE growing shortfall in priests could lead to members of the public becoming more involved in services in the Catholic Church. This includes inviting lay people to perform duties at funeral services.
The newly ordained Clogher Diocese Bishop, Larry Duffy has said that addressing declining priest numbers will be a priority for him in his new role.
As part of this Bishop Duffy intends to invite lay people to perform funeral duties. His remarks come at a time when the diocese now has three parishes without priests.
A workshop due to be held in Enniskillen later this month will be attended by clergy, lay people and Bishop Duffy. At the event a focus will be placed on a series of liturgies which are currently led by priests but in the future could be led by lay people.
Commenting on the topic Father Brian D’Arcy said that until recently Ireland has had a very clerical dominated church. However, at a time when the numbers in vocations to the priesthood are falling Fr D’Arcy, pictured below, remarked that there must now be a different way of looking at things. He added that throughout the world that practice of having lay people perform duties has been going on for a long time.
Speaking in relation to funerals he said, “I’ve seen it around the country that when the remains come in somebody from the parish bereavement group will get up and say the prayers and there’s no problem with that.
“The biggest difficulty may well be when there aren’t enough priests to actually say a Mass at a funeral or at a wedding, and we’ll have to get used to that.”
BBC Sunday Sequence raised the issue of disparity that may come when one person gets a priest to receive remains into the church and say Mass at the service and someone else does not receive the same.
“I understand people have got used to practices. Priests are turning themselves inside out, and if we can do it we will do it.
But there may be times when we simply cannot do it because we’re not going to have a priest in every church.
“The church will be burying you even if you don’t have a cleric to do it and they’re two very distinct things. I think the whole theology of church will be made clear by this.”
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